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What is a Responsible, Reputable Breeder?

So many times we have people walking up to us when we have Rio and when noticing he's still intact (waiting for him to mature more before neutering him), proceed to ask if we're breeding him or would we breed him to their "beautiful" bitch. Every time I tell them that he's a rescue, we have NO clue about his parents or grandparents health history and we're not gonna breed him. 'Oh! But you'd have such beautiful puppies!!' Well, I'm sure we would, as all puppies are beautiful, but that doesn't change the fact that I know NOTHING of his history, no clue what I could potentially be passing along to his offspring and he's not shown to be judged against the standard.

Just b/c you have Henry and Henrietta and you think they'd make cute puppies (again, ALL puppies are cute), or your want Jack and Jill to watch the 'miracle of birth', or maybe you wanna make a buck...doesn't mean you should. What happens if your bitch starts having complications and has to be rushed to the E-vet and Jack and Jill have to watch their PET and best friend die.

I wouldn't be a reputable breeder if I bred Rio b/c I haven't had him health tested, I haven't shown him, I know absolutely nothing about his background and countless other reasons.

So that got me thinking about reputable breeder vs not so great breeders and I thought I'd use that as an opening to the below info. (Sources: Great Dane Rescue of the Southwest and the Oct. 2009 edition of the Great Dane Gazette)

Do's & Don'ts
DO visit shows and call breed clubs and all-breed clubs to find a reputable breeder who is active in their breed and other dog related activities.

DO look in breed specific magazines. Look for ads that state what the breeder and dogs have accomplished, not those advertising litters.

DON'T look in your local classified section or Internet classifieds! Reputable breeders don't need to advertise puppies for sale in these places!!

DON'T place ads saying "puppy wanted!" ANYWHERE! It is like wearing a sign saying "hey all you sleazy breeders come and get me!" (Nobody reputable will ever answer those and reputable breeders actually prefer you to be referred by one of their peers, a rescue organization, their club or by emailing in inquiring with them etc.)

Red Flags of Less than Reputable Breeders


  • "I'd know if my dogs were not healthy."
  • "There's no history of (hip, etc.) problems in my line."
  • "We don't need to do health testing; all our dogs are guaranteed."
  • "OFA dogs can still throw dysplastic pups, so testing is useless.".
  • "We send all our dogs with a Health Certificate to prove they are healthy."
  • "The vet said sire/dam was healthy at last vet visit."
  • "Shipping at 6 weeks...." (They shouldn't leave until at least 8 weeks and in some states it's the law.)
  • "It's normal for a Dane pup at 8 weeks to weigh 8 lbs....."
  • "Some of our Danes top 200lbs!!!" Heavy is not healthy and shouldn't be a bragging point.
  • "We have German dogs because they are bigger, better and live longer." 'German' isn't a "type"
  • "Free of genetic disease."
  • "Our lines don't have health problems." (How do you know if you don't health test?)


  • "We import the best and we breed for German type." 'German' isn't a "type"
  • "Bigger is better; we breed the biggest Danes around!." (Bigger is NOT always better.)
  • "All our pups are AKC." Any dog can be registered with the American Kennel Club. All that's needed is the Sire and Dam to be registered.
  • "Champion bloodlines!" (To quote Green Bean; A puppy having "Champion Bloodlines" is like you having a great grandfather who was a doctor. Doesn't mean YOU are a doctor, or even capable of becoming one!)
  • "The Father once won a 1st place when he was shown." That's fantastic but why wasn't he shown more?
  • "I just breed quality pets, not show dogs". Plenty of "quality pets" in shelters. Actually, reputable breeders will have several "pet quality" Danes and only 1 or 2 "show quality" Danes.
  • "I'd love to show her, but her ears just wouldn't stand/tail got broke/etc."
  • "I know I'd win if I showed him!" (Then why don't you?)
  • "We'd show, but we sold off all the show marks, so had only 'breeders'." You should be breeding for show quality Danes and then sell the pet quality.


  • "Now the mother's just growling as she is protecting her pups."
  • "We have the mother/father locked up, as they are protective."
  • "Most Dane puppies do that (snarl, cower, pee on themselves)." Puppies should be confident but not aggressive.
  • "We could never get him trained, but he is a real sweetie at home."
  • "These dogs of mine have true German temperament." I sound like a broken record by 'German' isn't a type.
  • "You can train my Danes for guard and attack work."
  • "Our dogs are such good family dogs and so protective of kids."


  • "We welcome pet buyers." (As opposed to what?)
  • "All our dogs are sold on/with full papers." pets should be sold on a spay/neuter contract.
  • "Glad you called! We have 2 females for $500 each still left." A breeder should ask you just as many questions as you ask them, NOT sell the puppy to the first person with $$$$
  • "We'll sell you any pup in the litter you like." (A knowledgeable breeder should select the proper home for each pup based on the PERSONALITY of the pup.)
  • "We've been breeding for 20 years and have 100s of happy puppy buyers!"
  • "Read what our delighted buyers have to say about us." It's not a car or appliance.
  • "Most payment types accepted: EZ credit terms."
  • "Credit cards welcome."
  • "Terms and payments available!" *Most* breeders ask for a deposit up front and the remainder due at time of pickup but some may work with you.
  • "We have special pricing and can help you with a deal on one of our dogs." *Special pricing* sounds like you're selling an item, not a living, breathing animal.
  • "We ship worldwide; satisfaction guaranteed!"
  • "We'll bring your puppy right to your door."
  • "We'll just meet you in a rest area with the pup you choose once you've paid." (Be wary of the breeder who makes up excuses as to why you can't go to their home.....generally indicates poor housing.)
  • "You can pay us the rest with the pups from her first litter." Reputable breeders don't sell pups to later receive pups from as payment.
  • "IF you buy two, we'll give you a special deal." It's not a 2-for-1 special!
  • "Since this one is deaf, I'll lower the price."


  • "ALL COLORS AVAILABLE!!" Should only breed the color standard: Black, Blue, Fawn, Brindle, Mantle (or Boston) and Harlequin. They're currently working on getting the Merle accepted as they play such a role in the Harlequin color.
  • "Buy this Merle and you can breed your own harls." Shouldn't be bred without knowledge of color.
  • "Buy this white and you'll be able to make whole litters of harls." No guarantee. Again, takes knowledge of color.
  • "Oh, sure. That white puppy can hear. And isn't he pretty?" Generally speaking, white Danes can be blind and/or deaf. Adorable, yes but shouldn't be bred.
  • "We have rare, unusual and special colored pups to show you." There is no rare, unusual or special color. Those colors occur naturally when bred with the "wrong" color. This is where knowledge of color comes in to play..
  • "Is he show marked? No, but you can still breed him." Of course you could breed but doesn't mean you should.
  • "She is show marked, so that means show quality." (There should be a heck of a lot more to a show prospect than color.)
  • "Harls come in lots of colors besides black and white." Yes and no. Harlequins, according to the breed standard, should be black and white, maybe some grey spots. Other variations are not part of the standard.
  • "This blue brindle (merlequin, fawn boston, etc.) is really rare." No, not rare. Happens when breeding outside of the color standard.

GENERAL SALESMANSHIP (Do they come on too strong/too practiced?)

  • "We just want to make sure you're pleased with your puppy!" Every breeder should want that, shouldn't have to be said.
  • "Satisfaction guaranteed!" Not a car.
  • "I don't breed for the money but for the love of the breed." If you love the breed, then make sure you're breeding to better the bred by following the guidelines in the breed standard.
  • "My Danes are my babies first and foremost." They all should be.
  • "Pets and breeders, looking for good homes." Again, should ALL be pets first and then after health testing and showing be considered for breeding to better the breed.
  • "Gorgeous, wonderful, super special, amazing, terrific pups!!" Sounds like one of those annoying TV ads where the person is yelling.
  • "Good Christian family with really great Great Danes for sale!!"
  • "Loving mother who cares for each litter like her own children."
  • "We guarantee you we are a reputable breeder...not a puppy mill!!" (Why do you feel the need to specify?)
  • "Members of AKC." American Kennel Club. Any dog can be registered with the AKC.
  • "Affiliated with the DNA Sire Program."
  • "I hardly ever have litters and love all my babies so, so much!"
  • "Read about our kennel philosophy/mission statement."
  • "All our dogs are loved!!!" (Like others are not??)
  • "Our dogs never end up in rescue!"
  • "We breed for temperament, type and health on all our dogs." As it should be done.
  • "Our accomplishments include raising happy, healthy dogs."
  • "At Danes4saleKennel, we are working hard to breed the best."
  • "We are improving our dogs every generation."
  • "We hope to have something good enough to show."
  • "We've had some super dogs thru the years, we just never got around to showing, but ours are real winners!" (Again, why don't you show to prove?)
  • "This pup was priced at $1000, but for you, I'd be willing to go....".
  • "Members of the Local Whatever Humane Society (or any work-related-non-dog group)."
  • "We'll just send her; I know you'll like this merle girl just as much as a black male."
  • "His last litter was sired when he cleared a 6 foot fence."
  • "Snooty breeders read this section!!" (Dead give-away for a bad breeder who has been harassed by reputable folks.)

(Partially quoted from Great Dane Rescue of the Southwest)

Signs of a Reputable Breeder
  1. Is dedicated to producing quality dogs that compliment the breed standard. Has so much invested in dogs that he struggles to break even, not making a profit. Will sell pups only to approved buyers.
  2. Can explain how planned breedings are used to emphasize or minimize specific qualities.
  3. Does not breed dogs younger than age 2. Has breeding stock x-rayed to check for hip dysplasia, eyes checked with proof of CERF. Can produce certification to prove claims.
  4. Has a written contractual commitment to replace a dog with genetic faults or to help owner deal with problem.
  5. Loves the breed and can talk at length about its background, uses, and ideal type.
  6. Has an investment in dog equipment and the puppies environment is sanitary and loving.
  7. Belongs to national, regional and/or local dog clubs, indicating a love for the sport of purebred dogs. Shows their dogs in conformation events as an objective test of how his stock measures up.
  8. Evaluates puppy litter and determines which puppy best fits which family depending on temperament, activity level, size and sex.
  9. Prices will be at the high end of local range. Price will not reflect all that is invested in the pups. A reputable breeder never profits from the sale of puppies. Does not advertise in the newspaper and many times has an established waiting list for the puppies.
  10. Only sells puppies with a "companion contract" or a "show dog contract" depending on the situation. Will provide this contract prior to sell of puppy upon request.
  11. After purchase, will help you with grooming or training problems. Will take back the puppy at any age if you cannot keep it rather than see it disposed of inappropriately. Sells pets with spay/neuter agreement and on AKC limited registration.
(Quoted from October 2009 edition of the Great Dane Gazette)

Now, I realize that some may not agree with my views and that's ok. My whole point to this post is to please do your research on not only your breed of choice (b/c obviously this can be applied to any breed) but also on your breeder. Make sure that they're perfectly okay with all your questions and don't get offended. Same as when they ask you questions. Both should have the dogs best interest at heart and not the $$$.

Also, I can understand not wanting to spend thousands on 'just a dog', trust me, I don't have that kind of money either but that adage "you get what you pay for" can apply to buying from a reputable breeder vs a not so reputable one. While you'll pay more from the first person, know that they won't make very little if any profit from the sale of that puppy b/c all that money goes to the health testing, showing and breeding of that well-bred pup and on the flip-side, the not so reputable is pocketing that money. Yes, I'm sure they took them to the vet but that still doesn't equal the amount the reputable breeder spent.

Not all of this is black and white either, there are some points that *I* feel are ok BUT in context. It's all about how you feel about the situation. Research. Research breed. Research breeder. Research. It's worth it, trust me.


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